This article is for businesses that are not already on Google MAPS. If you're not sure, you can start here.
The link to setup or view your Google Business listing is here: https://www.gybo.com/business. When you click on the "View My Listing" link, it will ask you for your business name. If Google identifies your listing in the directory already, you'll be presented with the option to get started (using that listing). In this case, you can skip the rest of this article and read: Setting Up and Claiming Your Google My Business Listing.. If Google doesn't find your business, you will go through the dialog of adding your business to Google's Business Listings.
TIP - Using Primary Owner
TRAP - Don't Let Your Marketing Company Own Your Business Page
TRAP - Don't use your personal Gmail account as your Google Business Listings account
BEFORE you go through the setup below, create a separate Gmail account that you will use for marketing purposes. See: Create a Dedicated Gmail Account - Primary Owner. Once you have created this account, login with it and proceed to add your new business. If you are working with a marketing company, ASSIGN them as a user, never let them create the account and own the listing on your behalf.
The Gmail account you created and own will be listed as the primary owner of the account and the email in it will not be mixed in with any of your personal email. You'll have full control of your Google Business Listing and only you will be able to assign users or even shut the listing down if you choose to do so. Nobody outside of your company should have that kind of leverage unless you really trust them (many clients trust us however I still create an account that the client owns). The account is also separate from your personal account for a reason. As you move on with your Google Business Listings marketing plan, you'll thank me later for sparing your personal Gmail account all that spam. Trust me!
Setting up a NEW business not already on Google
When you click through the "Get Started" links to setup a new business on Google, the first thing Google will ask is for you to login. If you followed the tip above then you should be logged in with a Gmail account that you want to use as the primary owner of the account.
Google may ask you once again for the name of your business. Be honest about your business name. Don't try to stuff the entry with keywords, search terms or locations unless that is how you represent your business everywhere. That said, quite honestly, our business is listed as 50Bubbles Local SEO and Web Development Services on Google. So I'm sort of breaking my own rules. However I set this up on Google before I even had the legal business name and I didn't want to change the name on Google after all the marketing I did with it. Still, it hasn't hurt us to have those keywords in the business name. If you plan to do it, you have to list your business that way EVERYWHERE that you create a business listing if you want Google to recognize that as your legitimate business name.
Moving forward, once you confirm that the business name you suggested is what should be setup and Google has not found that business listed, you'll be presented this simple dialog to fill in for your business listing.
While you're entering this information, consider the fact that this will become the standard template used for your business profile across the web.
TIP - City or Suburb
If your business is located in a suburb, consider using the major city instead of the suburb as the city. For example, use Dayton - instead of Beavercreek. A good test for the legitimacy of doing this is if you can send a package to your address in the major city, will it get there? If so, consider it OK to do. Why this test? Because one of the methods Google uses to verify your business is to send mail with a pin-code to the address you enter here.
TIP - Google Business Listing Address
No P.O. Box! You should also be aware that you must enter the physical address for your business and not a P.O. Box. In some cases (like home-based business), you may not want to show your address on Google. You will have the opportunity to hide your address and list your business "service area".
TIP - Google Business Listing Phone Number
TRAP - DO NOT USE TRACKING NUMBERS HERE
If you're a well established business, your main business phone number should be the one for which you wish clients to call in on. We do NOT recommend call tracking numbers to be used for this listing. Use your actual business line.
If you have a new business, or you have a home based business, you may not not want your home phone or your cell phone listed as your business number. What option do you have? My personal recommendation is Magic Jack! http://www.magicjack.com/index.html. With Magic Jack, you can have a physical phone connected to your PC (via USB) or a phone jack plugged into your router on your home internet. The call quality is excellent and the features are well suited for small business use at a very low cost. When you're not at home, you can set the calls to forward to your cell phone but your clients and prospect will always be dialing through the business line. If it gets to the point where the calls are disrupting your day, you can forward them to a low cost answering service. Magic Jack will also allow you to transfer your number in the case where your business grows into an established office and the number becomes a permanent business line. The ultimate goal here is to minimize the number of times you have to change your phone number as your business grows while maintaining your flexibility as a small business.
Lastly, I have to mention again, do NOT use a tracking number on this listing. The reason will become clear later. There are some local SEO marketing companies that suggest doing this. We see it as nothing but a "gotcha" strategy. Some of these same marketing companies will create a 2nd website on your behalf for FREE! Remember this: "FREE HAS A PRICE". If you part ways with a marketing company that does this, what happens to the website and phone number? They are not yours. They go bye-bye and along with them all of the money you spent on local SEO was for optimizing a website and phone number that weren't yours. DON'T DO IT!
TIP - List Your ACTUAL Website on Your Google Business Listing
TRAP - DO NOT SETUP A 2nd SITE FOR THIS LISTING
This might seem like a no-brainer however there are some marketing companies that might take you for a ride if you're not careful. As I mentioned above, some marketing companies will create a 2nd "tracking" website and populate your Google Business Listing with that site. Once you are very heavily vested in marketing your Google Business Listing, you will have a tough time parting ways with a marketing company that owns your company phone number and website. That same company will also create the Google listing on your behalf and guess who ends up being the Primary Owner for your Google Business Listing. Make sure your business has primary ownership and that your Google Business Listing is promoting websites and phone numbers that you own and that will stick for the long term.
Business Service Area or Store Front?
The last part of the form is basically telling Google if you have an office location where you entertain clients or if you go to your clients locations. Home based businesses, consultants and the like will often not want to publish their home address. Some businesses may have both (like a plumber for example). In those cases, the selection is still YES because you want to list your business service area. You'll get an opportunity to state that you have an office location that you would like published.
On the next page of the form, you'll be offered the opportunity to provide more detail about your business. Here you can describe your service are and also indicate whether you have a store front or not. Home based businesses, consultants and other service providers that do NOT want to list there address will still provide their address to Google but the address will be hidden from the public listing.
TRAP: Multiple Locations - Fake Locations
Some businesses may attempt to game the system by adding multiple business locations that don't really exist. Err on the side of caution here because if you get caught cheating, Google will remove ALL of your business listings from the MAPS Business Listings. If you publish your listing as a storefront, Google may ask for images of signage and location as proof.
Consider yourself warned.
Beyond that, consider this. Google Business Listings is an identification strategy... NOT a growth strategy. And they are really good at the identification part! If you want to grow your business in a region, you'll have to do a lot more than list it on Google!
Once you have completed this dialog, Google will begin a verification process. That usually entails sending mail to the location (not a P.O. Box) with a PIN code. Be on the lookout because it looks like JUNK mail. Opening the mail will reveal a PIN code that you'll need to verify your business actually exists at that location.